Review at Length: Montes Wines Purple Angel 2010
Montes Wines Purple Angel 2010
Colchagua Valley, Chile
The Super Carmenère of Montes
This superb wine represents a whole new dimension for Carménère, the long-lost grape variety that recently resurfaced in Chile after being presumed extinct in Bordeaux, its original home. In Chile, we consider it our ‘signature’ variety and call it the ‘Jurassic Park’ grape that returned from the past.
And a ‘Jurassic Park’ grape makes for a ‘Jurassic Park’ wine! If you are a lover of big, bold and beautiful red wines, look no further than this heavenly angel.
I was surprised to find this somewhat older vintage when I was out shopping for special occasion wines several months back. I was used to seeing reviews for slightly younger bottles, around the 2012 – 2013 mark, so I scooped this 2010 up without hesitation. With all the power and oomph Carménère possesses as a full-bodied variety, there was no way this wouldn’t be delicious at 7 years old. I gleefully toted my treasure back home and tucked it away for a little nap, hoping a little more bottle time would make it extra delightful. More importantly, I needed an actual occasion to open it for, and didn’t really have any coming up! The wait was excruciating.
And then I started to approach my 300th wine review on Vivino…
This is it! #300 is my special occasion. You have to treat yourself when you reach wine milestone on Vivino. It’s just what you do. If any of you readers are unfamiliar, Vivino is an awesome app I use to track my reviews and make wine wish lists. Can’t remember if you’ve had a certain wine before? Maybe you have, but you can’t remember if you liked it or not. Well, this is app is for you! Make sure you check me out and add me if you have it, or if you’re about to download it. I love seeing what others are drinking!
OK, now back to the Purple Angel and the geniuses who created this cosmic wine at Montes.
Montes Wines was originally founded as Discover Wine in 1987, under Aurelius Montes and Douglas Murray. The two were later joined by Alfredo Vidaurre and Pedro Grand in 1988. The group was successful in launching Chilean wine onto the global stage, reaching over 100 countries and producing top-notch wine from “first growth”. This means that the very first time the grapes grew from their vines, the wine was noteworthy. Montes has set the bar high for Chilean wines over the years, and has paved the way for other winemakers in the country to achieve recognition and success. An individual and “100% Chilean” effort has lead them to become “ambassadors” of sorts for the country, and they pride themselves on achieving their success without seeking joint ventures or consulting with foreign companies.
Today, Carménère is a quintessential Chilean variety. The grape can trace its heritage back to the Médoc region of Bordeaux, France; however, it has thrived on the warm, sunny hillsides of this coastal South American country. The wines produced from this varietal are full bodied and show robust fruit flavors such as dark berries and plums. Other distinct flavors that can be perceived include a variety of spices, chocolate, coffee, tea, leather and tobacco. Carménère derives its name from the French word for crimson, carmin. As such, it possesses a deep, dark red hue which may also have hints of purple.
Because Chile is the largest producer of Carménère, it makes sense that Montes would craft a stunning wine showcasing the beauty of this grape. The Purple Angel is made of 92% Carménère, the other 8% comes from Petit Verdot. The Petit Verdot is blended in to provide more structure and enhance aging potential. It is also aged for 18 months in new French oak, which adds additional tannic structure. 50% of the Carménère grapes in the 2010 vintage were sourced from Montes’ sun-drenched Apalta Estate, while the other 50% was grown at the cool-weather coastal Marchigüe Estate. The 2010 harvest produced a 15% lower yield, which resulted in a more intense, concentrated wine. I still can’t believe I stumbled upon this wonderful vintage by chance.
Time to open the Montes!
As expected, this Carménère was deep carmine hue when I poured it into my decanter and let it breathe for an hour. At seven years, it was already starting to show some age in regards to its coloring, with a slight brick tint instead of the heavenly purple I was hoping for. But you can’t just a book by its cover – I was just excited to get to tasting!
As I poured myself a glass, I noticed plenty of sediment despite my use of the decanter. Sure enough, this wine is unfiltered. I was not dissuaded or discouraged, so I pressed on. The aromas were impressive as I stuck my nose into my wine glass. I was greeted with black cherry candies at first, and slowly the aromas evolved into mint, cinnamon and ocean driftwood as the angel opened up. So far, so deliciously good!
As I took my first sip, I was immediately impressed with its complexity and power. Flavors of licorice and ripe dark berries mingle with coffee beans, leather, tobacco, tomato, and spice. As I move the wine over my palate, each of the flavors stands out and then seamlessly melds into another. The body is full with a perfectly balanced acidity. Silky tannins emerge slowly, develop a nice grip and grittiness, then linger for days on the finish.
I am curious to try this wine a bit younger. Perhaps I may have been able to witness a bit of the purple hue, or taste the delicious chocolate notes that others, including Montes, have attributed to this wine. However, this was still quite impressive with its explosion of dark fruits, spices and savory flavors. This definitely a re-buy for another special occasion, along with some of the other offerings from Montes. I am consistently impressed with the quality of their wines, at all price points they offer. Make sure to give them a try – you won’t be disappointed!
Let me know what you think of the Purple Angel – or other Montes Wines you’ve tried – in the comments.